RFID Passports Coming

Search Engines Web sent in a link to a CNN story about upcoming changes to US passports:

Imagine being overseas and your identity being available for the taking - your nationality, your name, your passport number. Everything. That's the fear of privacy and security specialists now that the State Department plans to issue "e-Passports" to American travelers beginning in late August.

The Department of State has a FAQ page up as well.

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From the FAQ

To further protect against skimming, the U.S. e-passport will include a shielding material in the passport cover that will make unauthorized reading of the passport very difficult from any appreciable distance as long as the passport is closed.Basically, from what I understand, they're weaving metal throughout the cover and creating a Faraday cage. If this is the case, and it's done correctly, then the passport should be fairly safe. I say "fairly" because the government has this nasty habit of making something that they feel is as safe as possible only to underestimate how hard people will work to bypass those safety guards. If the passport cover is not completely closed, the Faraday cage will have a hole in it, and it would be possible for a high gain scanner to get through that hole.The thing is, skimming passports like this really isn't a big deal for the skimmers. They can passively scan and the scanner can be hidden in almost anything and, while skimming, they would appear completely innocuous. They could sit at a table in a airport coffeeshop with the scanner trained on an exit door. Then they just sit there, read the paper, have coffee, and leave after a while to go see how they did.So I'd recommend making sure the passport cover is completely closed. Even something as low-tech as a rubber band would do that. Otherwise, I guess this is one instance where wrapping the sucker in aluminum foil would actually work.

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